Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
We recently got rid of our satellite TV. To be honest, I had no idea the whole thing would be…not a big deal. We'd had DIRECTV for years, but one day we got to talking it over and realized the only things we were really watching were Chopped marathons on Food Network (I mean, who doesn't like that show?), football games (to clarify: I eat food while Jay watches the games), and random TLC reality shows. We never wanted to pay extra for fancy channels or HD any sort of DVR, so we were paying nearly $50 a month for hardly anything. After a certain point, we figured that we could make do without it, and finally took the plunge last month.
I don't miss it at all. In fact, I don't even notice it's gone. It's kind of weird.
All things considered, we have plenty of ways to still watch TV. I never actually watch shows on the night they air, and am happy enough to watch certain shows online (like Grey's Anatomy via Hulu). We also have Netflix streaming for only $7.99 a month, which gives me my cultural documentary and Arrested Development fix, and gives Eisley her daily dose of Barney and Caillou. We also bought this antenna, not knowing whether or not it would even work well. But it does! It almost feels like we're doing something illegal. Free TV? With HD channels? WHAT.
Yes, it's been good. And we still get to watch Jeopardy every night like the hip, young folks we are.
This change had me thinking about all the other things that would probably surprise the person I was a decade ago. At that point in life, I'm sure I mostly thought I had figured out the sort of person I'd become, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) that wasn't the case. Here are a few other things I've done in the past couple years that I never expected to do:
— Going (mostly) veggie: The summer I was pregnant with Eisley, Jay had the grand idea to go vegetarian. I was annoyed by it, mostly because he had openly mocked me when I tried to be vegetarian for one month a while earlier. (This could be because after one week I was chowing down on a cheeseburger from In-N-Out, but still.) Soon thereafter I was on board, and it's been much easier than I thought. We don't buy meat to have at home, but we're not to the point of refusing to eating meat if we're served some at someone's house or at an event of some sort. (To be honest, I still get giddy to eat meat dishes when we're visiting family or at restaurants. I'll probably never flat out refuse to eat any meat for the rest of my life, but I'm pleased to report that I really only eat it once every several months or so.)
Around here, we eat a lot of tofu, fish, beans, and rice. Subbing other things in recipes to make them vegetarian is much less intimidating that you may think. We also like making things like soups, chilis, pasta dishes, and stir fry—which are super easy to make without meat and with extra servings of veggies.
— Buying almond milk: Never in my life did I think I'd come to not only tolerate, but enjoy "fake" milk. I used to think the only people who bought such a thing had a lactose intolerance or were borderline hippies. Yet, here I am! Pouring unsweetened vanilla almond milk on my cereal like it ain't no thang! Old me would judge new me, but I'm okay with that. After doing a bit of research and finding so much info on how cows milk isn't nearly as important as the dairy industry makes it out to be, I am eager to make the switch for Eisley and Jay, too. (But we'll see how it goes for Jay. No promises!)
— Raising a toddler in a one-bedroom duplex: This was in no way a part of any childhood fantasy I had about marriage, motherhood, and being a grown-up. But, you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. It's been more natural than anything, and less of a challenge than people may assume. It wasn't that many years ago that many of our own great-grandparents were raising large families in tiny homes without feeling like they were terribly deprived. And, sure, times have changed, but we've all seen how modern culture pushes so much of the whole you-must-have-this and you-need-to-buy-this on us every day. It's been refreshing to meet other people who don't find it weird that our daughter's crib is in our room, or that we are a family of three in a one-bedroom duplex.
I definitely dream of the day we have our own home, and our own room, and a nice yard, but for now this situation has been fairly easy to handle. Simplicity, folks. It's not too shabby.
And aside from the items listed above, there are a few other things I've managed to do in the past ten years that at one point would have seemed out of character for me. Confidently driving on Southern California freeways, having the ability to run for three miles straight, certain parenting decisions I've made (like extended breasfeeding and co-sleeping when Eisley was younger), drinking coffee in the morning like a real adult (albeit with some deliciously fattening creamer), and developing what I like to consider a healthy dislike for things such as shopping malls, beauty magazines, and thong underwear.
That last one may, in fact, be a slight over-share, but really, you guys? Not happening.
It's been interesting to look back on how there are many things in life that have just…kind of happened. They've become part of the person I am, even though I never expected them to. Big decisions, smaller changes, all of it.
Kind of makes me wonder what else I have up my sleeve that I don't even know about yet, you know?
Friday, May 10, 2013
It's been a long time since I've written anything about my faith. It's been nearly four years since I first wrote about my struggles with finding a church home. I have grown a lot since then, even though many of my original hopes, concerns and frustrations still remain.
But I will say that in the past four years, I've learned a lot of things.
I realized just how important having a church home is to me, especially since the arrival of my daughter. The memories I have of dressing up every Sunday, attending Sunday school and VBS, memorizing bible verses, feeling that safety and comfort…these are things that I want for Eisley, and any future children we may have someday. I know Jay was raised in the same way—missing church on any Sunday just felt awkward—and I know this is important to him, too. I want Eisley to be surrounded by people who love and support her in ways beyond just basic caring and kindness. A church family provides that.
I realized that just because I am now officially a member of our church (Lutheran, Missouri Synod) doesn't mean that I have to think that this specific denomination is the be-all and end-all of Christianity. I know that this isn't something you see across the board, but the general feeling I get from many churches I've attended (not just Lutheran, but a few different denominations) is that they are the ones who "got it right". I, on the other hand, have no qualms with anyone who is a Christian and worships differently than my church does.
(In fact, I much prefer a more untraditional, carefree sort of service—especially when it comes to music and communion.)
I realized that there are other places I can be spiritually fulfilled and encouraged, and that my church doesn't necessarily have to be the only thing I rely on. If I'm being completely honest, I'd love for our church to be a place filled with like-minded young parents, with many opportunities to connect with other women my age. I'd love for our church to be big enough that Jay and I don't have to switch off every other week: one of us watching Eisley in the nursery, while the other one sits alone in a pew. But it's likely that will not happen for some time. Luckily, there's one girl my age at church that I've bonded with a lot recently, and I'm also hoping to actually make some sort of grand effort to also join a Christian mommy-meetup-sort-of-a-thing. So, there's that.
I've also been realizing that I'm so envious of people who live and breathe Jesus. For the past handful of years, I've been much more comfortable keeping my beliefs tucked away in a place that is just for me. But that's also the reason I've reached a place where I'm not at all growing or thriving or learning or sharing. Or any of that. My desire to do more with my faith—to learn more and be more—is almost a physical need at this point. Sometimes I just feel like crying because I feel so stuck.
I want to rediscover that relationship I had with God when it felt like all my thoughts went right to him, and that he was such an integral part of everything. Not in a showy, Ta-da! Look at how religious I am! sort of way—but in an authentic, personal way that made my days calmer, my decisions easier.
I was really dragging my feet for a long, long time when it came to actually becoming a member of our church. I was stubborn, hurt, and a little bit annoyed over a few things that weren't as big of a deal as I'd made them out to be. Although there are still things about the Lutheran church that I don't necessarily thing are the only way to do things, my understanding of why they do them a certain way has grown—so, I can finally look at them with appreciation for what they are (and no longer general annoyance or hurt feelings).
However, I must admit I felt quite awkward being welcomed to the church in front of the whole congregation. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but after having attended with Jay for so many years, I may have well already been a member. I confided in a friend about how all I could think of was how people were looking at me, thinking, "Oh, how sweet! Jay's wife has finally converted!" She laughed with me and made me feel not so lame about my paranoia, but still. All I really wanted to do was preface the whole service by saying, "I was raised in the Lutheran church, folks! I'm not just now seeing the light!"
Odds are, there wasn't anyone thinking anything negative about me (especially because I've known most people in congregation for many years now, and they've been nothing but kind) but if you know me well, you know that the tendency to over-think absolutely everything is one of my many tragic flaws.
At this point in time, I realize that perhaps I build things up too much in my head. And perhaps the tiny, friendly church we attend is actually enough for us right now. Who knows if we could ever find another church that both Jay and I would enjoy equally? (We did actually try out a couple other churches, but I could tell his heart wasn't in it.) I've always hated the idea of settling on a church, because I think that faith is more important than that. So, I've tried my best to stop thinking of it in that way. Because that's not really fair to anyone.
I desperately want to be more fulfilled spiritually, but much of that is up to me. It's not just about church, or the number of people in the congregation, or the number of kids that are the same age as Eisley, or whether I walk away from church every Sunday on a cloud of inspiration. At a certain point, I have to own my faith and work hard to reconnect with other Christians.
But if there's one thing that I will say, it's that I feel like I need to attend seminary specifically to study the Lutheran hymnal because sweet mercy. Hymns, man. Whenever I can figure out the tune by verse seven, I feel like someone owes me a cookie.
As with everything in life, this whole situation always shifting and changing. Some weeks I struggle with it more than others, but I'm finally at a point where I can be mostly content with where we go to church—if only for the incredible people there who have taken our little family under their wings and given us so much love. One thing I've learned in the past four years is that there's nothing quite like being somewhere everyone cares about you, (almost) everyone knows you, and everyone is genuinely happy to see you when you walk through that door every Sunday morning.
That's something I am always grateful for.